The Rangers made three roster moves yesterday in what was a busy day for them. The waived Adam Cracknell, signaling the end of his short tenure in New York. They then sent Anthony DeAngelo to Hartford and recalled Boo Nieves. It was a busy day, so let’s review.
1. The Cracknell acquisition was a low risk move in an attempt to stabilize the fourth line. On paper, Cracknell is a solid, if unspectacular, defensive oriented forward. He’s not flashy, but good in his own zone. The problem he had in New York was adjusting to the system. His skating, while not necessarily a flaw, wasn’t up to what the hybrid overload/man coverage system required. In the end, it was a choice of Paul Carey or him as the 13F. Carey won.
2. The DeAngelo demotion was long overdue. It’s actually something I’m happy about. There is nothing more infuriating than trading your 1C –opening up a huge hole that hasn’t been addressed in the process– for a kid that then never plays. At his age, minutes are more important than NHL vs. AHL playing time. Sending him to the AHL was the right move.
3. Let’s not kid ourselves, DeAngelo was not perfect. He made a bunch of mistakes in the defensive zone. He’s going to continue to make these mistakes. It’s what kids do. But the upside of his offense, especially on the powerplay, is worth the risk. Again, that doesn’t mean much if he doesn’t play.
4. One last thing on DeAngelo: His usage. One of the issues that got to me was how he was tossed around all over the lineup. He was on the top pairing, the bottom pairing, a healthy scratch, a Stu Bickel, and everything in between. That’s not fair to the kid and hurts his development. The Rangers traded Derek Stepan and specifically targeted DeAngelo. The organization –from GM to coach to training staff– needs to be on the same page to ensure this works.
5. Recalling Boo Nieves was the right thing, and probably something that should have been done from the get go. Nieves had a solid preseason, and should be a stabilizing presence on a fourth line that barely plays as is. Hopefully with his recall, the Rangers play 12 forwards regularly.
6. The pessimist in me thinks that Nieves will get fourth line minutes, but then AV will never play him. He will be alongside Pavel Buchnevich getting a shift or two per period at even strength. The optimist in me thinks that his presence means the fourth line gets regular shifts. The realist in me knows it’s going to be somewhere in the middle, with one mistake costing him a bunch of shifts.